“Who run the world? GIRLS!” sings Beyoncé. Sadly, out here in the real world it’s a bit more complicated. Out here, a man who says he grabs women "by the pussy" is still in the running to be the leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth.
Moreover, we don’t even have a proper picture of how bad the situation actually is, due to a lack of statistics about the factors affecting the opportunities for girls worldwide.
A recent report from child rights organisation Plan International, Counting the Invisible, showed that no credible global statistics exist on the real-life challenges faced by girls, such as how many have to drop out of school as a result of sexual violence or early marriage, or how many get pregnant under the age of 15.
“Governments will not end the abuse and inequality facing millions of girls because vital data about them is either incomplete or missing,” says Anne-Birgitte Albrechtson, CEO of Plan International. “It is easier to ignore a problem when there is little evidence of how pervasive it is or how deeply it affects people.”
And while there is a lack of information on what might be holding girls back, there’s a wealth of data on what this means: girls and women are largely invisible in the top tiers of power. For example, only 10 out of 152 elected heads of state worldwide are women, and less than 4% of the CEOs of the world’s top 500 corporations are women.
Statistics like these are driving a new campaign to bring girls front and centre, at least for one day. Today, on 11th October, the International Day of the Girl (and for a few days around this date), girls really will be running the world. They are leading the charge via 200 ‘takeovers’ of top positions, from president to police chief, in 50 countries from Nepal to Uganda.
“There is no country in the world where girls experience true gender equality,” adds Albrechtson. “The takeover is a statement of girls’ power and their ability to change the world.”